The Quiet House at Park theatre – a funny and gut wrenchingly honest new play, inspired by true events

The Quiet House, a blistering and honest new play about a couple’s journey to start a family by award-winning writer, Gareth Farr, is playing at Park Theatre from 7 June – 9 July, with  press night happening on 8 June, following its world premiere at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, 26 May – 4 June. The Quiet House is Gareth Farr’s second play following his Bruntwood Prize-winning debut, Britannia Waves The Ruleswhich premiered at the Royal Exchange Manchester in 2014. A funny, moving and unswervingly honest love story, The Quiet House was inspired by Gareth and his wife, Gabby’s own experience.

Jess and Dylan are in love. They want a family. That’s all they have event wanted. This ordinary couple find themselves on an extraordinary journey when they enter the world of IVF. Forced to fight for the family they so desperately want, they put their faith in science and their relationship through the ultimate test.

Oliver Lansley ( Dylan) and Michelle Lansley ( Jess) in The Quiet Home.

Oliver Lansley ( Dylan) and Michelle Bonnard ( Jess) in The Quiet Home. Click the image to book your tickets.

The cast includes Michelle Bonnard as ‘Jess’, with actor and comedian Tom Walker, aka YouTube sensation Jonathan Pie, as ‘Tony’, Allyson Ava-Brown as ‘Kim’, and Oliver Lansley (Artistic Director of Olivier nominated company Les Enfants Terribles) as ‘Dylan’.

Tessa Walker, Associate Director at Birmingham Repertory Theatre directs The Quiet House following her recent productions of Tom Wells’ Folk (The REP, Hull Truck and Watford Palace Theatre), Steven Camden’s Back Down (UK tour) and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (The REP). Tessa was previously the Literary Director at Paines Plough and a Literary Associate at the National Theatre of Scotland.

Gareth Farr said, “I didn’t write this play as a form of therapy. I wrote it on the back of four years of fertility treatment during which I became interested in writing about something which people – particularly men – just weren’t talking about. This play is about hope. It’s about anyone who has focused so fiercely on the notion of hope, and clung to it so tightly, that it either breaks or it hardens and becomes a tangible thing.”

Jessica Hepburn said, “Fertility Fest will be a unique and uncompromising look at the pursuit of parenthood in the modern world. I think the thing that thrills me most is the number and breadth of acclaimed artists that have agreed to be involved including those who have already made work on this subject as well as others that are putting their interest in it into the spotlight for the first time. It’s a topic that has to be talked about more because despite affecting so many people it’s still a taboo. I hope Fertility Fest 2016 will begin to change this because I fundamentally believe that great artists tell it like it is and this is a subject that the world needs to hear more about.”

Sharing the stage with the festival artists who include the Liverpool Art Prize-winning artist Tabitha Moses; the multiple award-winning poet Julia Copus and West-End theatre director Matthew Dunster will be some of the country’s foremost medical experts including Professor Geeta Nargund, Medical Director at CREATE Fertility, Allan Pacey, Professor of Andrology at the University of Sheffield School of Medicine and Laura Witjens, Chief Executive of the National Gamete Donation Trust.

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Actor Gavin Spokes on his favourite professional experience, love for live theatre and more

Gavin Spokes
Gavin Spokes

Gavin Spokes © Nick James

Gavin Spokes talks about Guys and Dolls, London Pride – and Nineteen Eighty Four Headlong and Nottingham Playhouse’s spin on George Orwell. Dunstable gets a mention.

Hi Gavin! You are currently in rehearsals. What/Who/When/Where?
We are currently in rehearsals at the Phoenix theatre with our new Nathan and Adelaide, played by Simon Lipkin and Rebel Wilson

You have appeared in some pretty big shows including One Man Two Guvnors and appeared on TV and Film. What has been your favourite professional experience?
I’ve been very lucky to do some really lovely work. I’d say that playing Francis in One Man Two Guvnors in the west end was a real highlight

Guys and Dolls

Guys and Dolls

Is Guys and Dolls the greatest musical of all time? 
I’d say that Guys and Dolls is definitely in the top 3 musicals ever written. The book is as strong as the score, which is very rare.

Can you describe the house you grew up in?
I grew up in 3 bed semidetached house in Dunstable. Nothing fancy in the slightest but my mum was/is one of the most house proud people on the planet. A lovely place to grow up in.

You have expressed your personal love for live theatre as opposed to acting in TV and film. What are your thoughts on Cinema screenings of plays? 
I’m in favour of screenings in general. It’s generally only done with productions that are running in London. Most of the country can’t get/afford to see a production in London. It gives a chance for to those in the furthest corners of the country (or internationally) to witness the very best of British theatre.

What is the greatest Ale that you have ever supped? 
The greatest ale I’ve probably ever supped is a pint of London Pride which I had after I’d moved into my first house that I bought with my wife after 14 years of renting together!

You starred in one of my all time favourite shows Nineteen Eighty Four. Well done. Did you know it was going to be a huge success?
We (the cast) had no idea of how successful 1984 would be. When we opened in Nottingham, the audience didn’t clap at the end of the show for about 10-15 secs. We couldn’t tell if they hated it or not. It wasn’t until we got the reviews in, that we had a sense of what the feelings towards the production were. The rest is history. However Rob Icke & Duncan McMillan always had a clear idea of what they were trying to achieve.

Is Boris Johnson a fictional character?
Do not get me started on Boris Johnson.

Do you have any theatrical superstitions or rituals?
I won’t say Macbeth. In fact I often get into routines during a run. I guess I’m very superstitious, when I go back to my dressing room etc.

And what else do you have coming up?
I’ve started auditioning for things but nothing that’s definite yet.

 

Jude Akuwidike, Franc Ashman and Martins Imhangbe join Nicholas Pinnock in the Bush Theatre’s knockout production of The Royale

Jude Akuwudike, Franc Ashman and Martins Imhangbe will join the cast of The Royale, alongside Nicholas Pinnock, who plays Jay ‘The Sport’ Jackson – the first black heavyweight boxing champion of the world. 

Nicholas Pinnock, as Jay ‘The Sport’ Jackson – the first black heavyweight boxing champion of the world.

Nicholas Pinnock, as Jay ‘The Sport’ Jackson – the first black heavyweight boxing champion of the world. Click the image to book your tickets for The Royale

Jude Akuwudike (Othello, Hamlet, Moon on a Rainbow Shawl) will play boxing trainer Wynton, while Franc Ashman (Peep Show, Tennison, DCI Banks) will reprise the role of Jackson’s sister Nina. Martins Imhangbe(Lionboy, Das Ding) will play Jackson’s sparring partner Fish.

The Royale, a Bush Theatre production, runs from 3 to 26 November at The Tabernacle in Notting Hill.

Written by award-winning American writer Marco Ramirez (Sons of Anarchy, Orange is the New Black), The Royale returns following the UK premiere and sell-out run in spring 2015 and will again be directed by the Bush Theatre’s Artistic Director Madani Younis.

Jay ‘The Sport’ Jackson dreams of being the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. But it’s 1905 and, in the racially segregated world of boxing, his chances are as good as knocked out.

Told in six rounds and set in a boxing ring, The Royale is inspired by the often overlooked story of Jack Johnson, a boxer who – at the height of the Jim Crow era – became the most famous and the most notorious black man on Earth.

Through the sights and sounds of the early 20th century boxing circuit, The Royale examines society’s relationship with our present-day cultural heroes and the responsibilities that are thrust upon them when they find themselves outside of the ropes.

The Royale is loosely based on the real-life story of Jack Johnson, whose story is one of great talent and triumph, but also racism and injustice. Despite Johnson being one of the greatest fighters who had ever lived, one newspaper wrote at the time of his first title fight: “If the black man wins, thousands and thousands of his ignorant brothers will misinterpret his victory as justifying claims to much more than mere physical equality with their white neighbors.”

The Royale will be staged at The Tabernacle as the Bush Theatre undergoes a major redevelopment of its building. The venue, a former church, swinging sixties hang-out, community centre and, more recently, a training ground for young boxers, continues to host amateur boxing matches to this day.

The Royale - Actors and director.

The Royale – Actors and director. Click the image to book your tickets for The Royale

Jude Akuwudike’s recent theatre credits include The Crucible (Bristol Old Vic), Hamlet Asylum Seeker(Talawa/BandBazi), Othello (Actors From The London Stage/USA Tour/Cockpit Theatre, London), Ignorance(Hampstead Theatre), Moon On A Rainbow Shawl (National Theatre), The Faith Machine (Royal Court). TV and film credits include Friday Night Dinner (Channel 4), Lucky Man (Sky1) Cucumber (Channel 4), Holby CityUndercoverMoses Jones (all BBC), Beasts of No Nation (dir. Cary Fukunaga) and The Tempest (dir. Julie Taymor).Jude Akuwudike’s recent theatre credits include The Crucible (Bristol Old Vic), Hamlet Asylum Seeker (Talawa/BandBazi), Othello (Actors From The London Stage/USA Tour/Cockpit Theatre, London), Ignorance (Hampstead Theatre), Moon On A Rainbow Shawl (National Theatre), The Faith Machine(Royal Court). TV and film credits include Cucumber (Channel 4), Holby City, Undercover, Moses Jones (all BBC), Beasts of No Nation (dir. Cary Fukunaga) and The Tempest (dir. Julie Taymor).

Franc Ashman boasts an impressive list of theatre credits having performed extensively for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Out of Joint under the direction of Max Stafford-Clark and the National Theatre. Recent screen credits include Wagstaffe, TennisonDCI Banks and Apple Tree Yard. She played Molly in the latest series of Peep Show for Channel 4.

Franc Ashman boasts an impressive list of theatre credits having performed extensively for the Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre and acclaimed theatre company Out of Joint under the direction of Max Stafford-Clark. Recent screen credits include Tennison, DCI Banks & Apple Tree Yard. Franc lent her voice to the soundtrack of the Gary Oldman penned feature film Nil By Mouth and can be heard singing the theme song ‘Peculiar Groove’. She played Molly in the latest series of Peep Show for Channel 4.

Martins Imhangbe recently played the title role in Luce at Southwark Playhouse. His Other theatre includes Lionboy (Complicite), Das Ding (New Diorama),Romeo and Juliet (Orange Tree Theatre), Cinderella: A Fairytale (Unicorn Theatre), Street Stories (Royal opera House) and Sold at the Edinburgh Fringe, which won the Amnesty Freedom of Expression Award. Martins trained at Central School of Speech and Drama.

Nicholas Pinnock is a British theatre, television and film actor who has recently appeared in programmes such as ITV’s Marcella and Sky’s Fortitude. He has also appeared in Channel 4′s award-winning drama, Top Boyhe played Dr Evan Farleigh in ITV’s The Ice Cream Girls and starred in the sequel to Monsters, in Monsters: Dark Continent.

Madani Younis took over as Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre in 2012. In 2013 he won the Groucho Club Maverick Award for the theatre, following the most successful season in the theatre’s history which played to 99% capacity. Also for the Bush Theatre he has directed Perseverance Drive and Chalet Lines. Prior to his appointment at the Bush Theatre, he was Artistic Director of Freedom Studios in Bradford, Yorkshire where his work included the site-specific work, The Mill – City of Dreams. He has also worked nationally and internationally as a theatre director, writer and practitioner. Whilst at Freedom Studios he collaborated with the Bush Theatre through workshops culminating in Freedom’s two week residency in 2010 at the theatre. He was previously Director of Red Ladder Theatre Company’s Asian Theatre School. He originally trained in film, and his debut short film Ellabellapumpanella, commissioned by the UK Film Council, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2007. He was the recipient of the Decibel Award at the South Bank Awards show in 2006.

How the Other Half Loves – Andre Lowe joins Duke of York’s transfer as ‘Teresa Phillips’

Bill Kenwright’s West End production of Alan Ayckbourn’s farcical tale of matrimonial mishaps How The Other Half Loves is moving house. The comedy, which has enjoyed huge public and critical acclaim since it opened in March, will extend its West End run, transferring from the Theatre Royal Haymarket to the Duke of York’s from 7 July – 1 October.

Joining the cast in the role of ‘Teresa Phillips’ will be Andrea Lowe, best known for playing DS Annie Cabbot in the popular ITV series DCI Banks.

Andrea Lowe

Andrea Lowe. Click the image to book your tickets for How the Other Half Loves.

Praise for the production includes:

**** ‘ONE OF THE FUNNIEST SHOWS IN TOWN’ THE TIMES

**** ‘THE PERFORMANCES ARE AN ACROSS-THE-BOARD TRIUMPH’ DAILY TELEGRAPH

 As Bob and Fiona clumsily try to cover up their affair, their spouses’ intervention only adds to the confusion. William and Mary Featherstone become hopelessly stuck in the middle, falsely accused of adultery and with no idea as to how they’ve become involved. The plot culminates in two disastrous dinner parties on successive nights, shown at the same time, after which the future of all three couples seems in jeopardy…

 Olivier Award nominated star of stage and screen Nicholas Le Prevost will continue to play ‘Frank Foster’ opposite Jenny Seagrove as ‘Fiona Foster’. Jenny starred in Ayckbourn’s Absurd Person Singular in the West End in at the Garrick in 2007, and is best known for her role as ‘QC Jo Mills’ in ITV’s Judge John Deed.

**** ‘NICHOLAS LE PREVOST IS MARVELLOUS …THE LINCHPIN’ FINANCIAL TIMES

 Jason Merrells – one of TV’s most popular actors from roles in Lark Rise to Candleford, Cutting It and Waterloo Road, and recently seen as ‘Juror Number 8’ in Twelve Angry Men, plays ‘Bob Phillips’.

****‘COMIC GENIUS… IT’S ALL A HOOT WITH SUPERLATIVE PLAYING FROM JENNY SEAGROVE AND JASON MERRELLS’

SUNDAY TIMES

Matthew Cottle, star of BAFTA nominated Game On, and most recently seen in Ayckbourn’s A Small Family Business at the National Theatre in 2014, plays ‘William Featherstone’ opposite Gillian Wright as ‘Mary Featherstone’. Gillian is nationally known for her award-winning role as ‘Jean Slater’ in EastEnders. 

**** ‘MATTHEW COTTLE – OUTSTANDING’ THE METRO

****‘GILLIAN WRIGHT IS SUBLIME’ THE STAGE

Les Enfants Terribles and ebp, in association with Bompas & Parr and Creature of London, present Dinner at the Twits – an interactive theatrical dining experience

Brought to you by Les Enfants Terribles and ebp, the team behind the Olivier Award-nominated smash hit Alice’s Adventures Underground, in association with gastronomic wunderkinds Bompas & Parr and creative wranglers Creature of LondonDinner at the Twits is a gloriously gruesome interactive theatrical dining experience that will blow your mind and tickle your tastebuds.

Les Enfants Terribles’ previous work includes multi-award-winning, international stage shows, including The TrenchThe Terrible Infants and The Vaudevillains.

Dinner at the Twits

Click on the image to book your Dinner at the Twits

Based on the best-selling and much-loved title from the world’s number one storyteller. For the very first time join two of Roald Dahl’s most exquisitely appalling characters, Mr and Mrs Twit, inside their windowless house and ghastly garden for a grown-up journey down memory lane. But be warned: Dinner at the Twits is not for the faint of heart or soft of stomach!

Your evening will include a banquet of deliciously disgusting dishes, to be enjoyed with homemade cocktails, Mr Twit’s special brew and Mrs Twit’s potent punch.

Fish the glass eye from your cocktail, take a slice of bird pie, and enjoy all manner of fabulously foul food while being entertained by your horrid hosts.

Celebrating a hundred years of Roald Dahl, in a year filled with gloriumptious treats, Dinner at the Twits is designed specifically for grown-ups – no chiddlers allowed! Roald Dahl’s unique blend of macabre humour and quirky warmth has endeared him to generations of children and adults. Dinner at the Twits is the first adaptation of one of his children’s titles specifically created for adults.

Produced by Emma BrünjesJames Seager and Oliver Lansley with Creature of London, directed by Emma Earle, written by Oliver Lansley and Anthony Spargo, and designed by Sam WyerDinner at the Twits will run at The Vaults in Waterloo from 4 September to 30 October.

Oliver Lansley, of Les Enfants Terribles, said: “We are delighted to be presenting the first adaptation specifically created for adults of one of Roald Dahl’s hugely adored children’s books. We never really lose our sense of play, our relish in the bizarre and revolting. Dinner at the Twits will give adults the opportunity to explore those boundaries between disgust and delight, to come up close and personal with the hideous hairy Twits and to be taken on a multisensory journey through Dahl’s beguilingly bizarre world.”

Harry Parr, of Bompas & Parr, said: “We have always been fascinated by food taboos, and the gleefully grotesque universe of the Twits seems to us the perfect place to probe the limits of gastronomic experimentation. We want guests at Dinner at the Twits to be titillated, intrigued and surprised, and we promise that squeamishness will give way to scrumptiousness as you open your minds and your mouths…” 

Les Enfants Terribles and ebp first joined forces in 2014 to create the technically and creatively ground-breaking theatrical experience, Alice’s Adventures Underground. An immersive and interactive theatrical production, it was the hit of the summer and ran at The Vaults for 21 weeks in 2015, playing to a total audience of 94,000 people and garnering a nomination for the Olivier Award for Best Entertainment and Family.

Emma Brünjes is an experienced producer, promoter and General Manager with ten years’ experience in theatre and comedy; as Head of Avalon Promotions, General Manager of Productions and Programming at Nimax Theatres and Producer of the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards among many other roles. In 2013 she started ebp, which has quickly established itself as a producer of great productions and great talent across its broad portfolio.

Bompas & Parr leads in flavour-based experience design, culinary research, architectural installations and contemporary food design, creating immersive flavour-based experiences ranging from an inhabitable cloud of gin and tonic to the world’s first multi-sensory firework.

Creature of London is an independent creative company that produces film, theatre, music videos and advertising, from The Hairy Ape at Southwark Playhouse, to associate producing Alice’s Adventures Underground with LET and ebp, to the Green Party’s ‘The Not So Secret Life of 5-Year-Old Politicians’, a video that became one of the most shared party election broadcasts of all time.”

The Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s Romeo and Juliet, will be broadcast live to cinemas worldwide on 7 July

The Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company in partnership with Picturehouse Entertainment, will broadcast Romeo and Juliet to more than 1200 cinemas worldwide live from the West End’s Garrick Theatre at 19:00on Thursday 7 July.

Richard Madden (Romeo) and Lily James (Juliet) in Romeo and Juliet

Richard Madden (Romeo) and Lily James (Juliet) in Romeo and Juliet. Click the image to see the details of participating cinemas and screening dates.

The broadcast of Romeo and Juliet follows that of The Winter’s Tale on 26 November 2015, which topped the UK cinema box office when it was broadcast to 520 cinemas across the country.

Reuniting the stars of the celebrated film CinderellaKenneth Branagh and Rob Ashford direct Shakespeareʼs heartbreaking tale of forbidden love. The full cast of Romeo and Juliet, the sixth production in the Plays at the Garrick season includes Lily James (Juliet), Richard Madden (Romeo) and Derek Jacobi(Mercutio) and Meera Syal (The Nurse).

The cinema broadcast of Romeo and Juliet will be presented in high-contrast black and white, and is directed by Benjamin Caron who has also recently collaborated with Kenneth Branagh on the final series of Wallander (BBC).

Lily James, who plays Juliet, said, “The live broadcast is so exciting because it gets the play out of the Garrick Theatre and across the world, opening it up to an entirely different audience.  It’s great to get a younger audience in too, with the cheap tickets available for students. My brother will be watching in Australia! 

When Ken first talked to me about Romeo and Juliet he described how we would really try and capture the thriller aspect of the story and set it in 1950’s Italy, firmly in the world of la dolce vita. The feel would be monochromatic, like those beautiful old black and white movies of that time, and it all immediately felt very filmic anyway. Howard Hudson has done such a brilliant job with the lighting and Christopher Oram’s set is so atmospheric and realistic, so hopefully the play will translate well to the cinema. 

I really think it’s so exciting to see Shakespeare on film and to watch plays displaced from their original setting into a new medium. I can’t wait!

The full cast includes Marisa Berenson (Lady Capulet), Jack Colgrave Hirst (Benvolio), Tom Hanson (Paris),Matthew Hawksley (Anthony), Derek Jacobi (Mercutio), Lily James (Juliet), Taylor James (Prince), Ansu Kabia (Tybalt), Richard Madden (Romeo), Racheal Ofori (Potpan), Nikki Patel (Balthasar), Chris Porter (Lord Montague), Zoë Rainey (Lady Montague), Michael Rouse (Lord Capulet), Meera Syal (The Nurse), Sam Valentine (Friar Laurence) and Kathryn Wilder (Peter).

John Osborne’s The Entertainer, which will be the final production in the Plays at the Garrick season (20 August – 12 November) and will star Kenneth Branagh, Jonah Hauer-King, John Hurt, Sophie McShera and Greta Scacchi, will be broadcast to cinemas live on Thursday 27 October 2016.

The Winter’s TaleHarlequinade / All On Her OwnRed VelvetThe PainkillerRomeo and Juliet and The Entertainer make up the seven-play season of work for the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company.

Ross Noble ‘Brain Dump’ comes to Mayflower Theatre in November

The king of improvisational comedy is back with his 15th tour. A true master of surreal tangents, Geordie funnyman Ross Noble will bring his new show ‘Brain Dump’ to locations across the UK including Mayflower Theatre on 28 November 2016.

Ross Noble

Click the image to book your tickets for Brain Dump.

After motorbiking around the country at the mercy of Twitter in his critically acclaimed travelogue series, ‘Ross Noble: Freewheeling’, which reached 3.7 million individuals across the two series on Dave, Ross now returns to his first love, stand-up comedy.

As always Ross has lots of stuff backing up in his head and it’s time to let it all out.  Famed for his super quick freewheeling style and highly imaginative flights of fancy, a Ross Noble show is always an unmissable event.

As everybody’s favourite randomist, Noble’s on-stage exuberance and cerebral style have established him as one of the best live comedians in the world. Starting out in comedy 25 years ago at the age of 15, Noble has undertaken 14 sell out tours, 9 top selling stand-up DVD releases, and ranked 10th in Channel 4’s poll of the 100 Greatest Stand-Ups. As well as performing on stage, Ross is a regular on panel shows such as ‘QI’ (BBC One) and ‘Have I Got News for You’ (BBC One) and has also appeared on ‘The Graham Norton Show’ (BBC One), ‘Room 101’ (BBC One) and ‘Just a Minute‘ (BBC Radio 4).

Ross Noble’s unmatched talent for abstract and laugh out loud streams of consciousness will be sure to delight. Come and be part of this truly unique live experience as audience and performer come together for a massive ‘Brain Dump’.

Tickets for Ross Noble – Brain Dump (November 28 2016) are on sale from Mayflower Theatre Box Office tel: 02380 711811 or online at mayflower.org.uk. Ovation Restaurant bookings: 02380 711833

 

 

Dirty Dancing- The Classic Story on Stage, further dates announced and new images released

Producers Karl Sydow and Paul Elliott are delighted to announce that due to overwhelming demand for tickets around the country, even more dates have now been added to the UK and Ireland tour of the brand new production of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage. Many performances have already sold out, and since originally going on sale in October 2015, over 150,000 tickets have been snapped up, with over £5million taken.

Dirty dancing

The classic story of Baby and Johnny, featuring the hit songs ‘Hungry Eyes’, ‘Hey! Baby’, ‘Do You Love Me?’ and the heart stopping ‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life’, returns to the UK this summer, following two blockbuster West End runs, two hit UK tours, and various sensational international productions. Lewis Griffithswill star as ‘Johnny Castle’, one of the most iconic roles in popular culture. Lewis has had a prolific career in musical theatre, most recently starring as ‘Nick Massi’ on the UK tour of Jersey Boys. Other roles in UK tours include Ghost and Legally Blonde, and West End credits include Priscilla Queen of the DesertRent and Whistle Down the WindKatie Hartland will make her professional musical theatre debut carrying the watermelons as she takes on the role of ‘Baby Houseman’, having graduated from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in 2015. Carlie Milner will star as ‘Penny Johnson’. Carlie is part of the Dirty Dancing family; starting as a member of the ensemble in 2014, she covered and subsequently took over the role of ‘Penny’ in 2015.

Joining Lewis, Katie and Carlie will be Julian Harries as ‘Jake Houseman’, Simone Craddock as ‘Marjorie Houseman’, Roger Martin ‘as Max Kellerman’, Jo Servi as ‘Tito Suarez’, Lizzie Ottley as ‘Lisa Houseman’,Michael Kent as ‘Billy Kostecki’, Greg Fossard as ‘Neil Kellerman’, Tony Stansfield as ‘Mr Schumacher’, andDaniela Pobega as ‘Elizabeth’, and Camilla Rowland as ‘Vivian’. Also joining the company are Gabby AntrobusImogen BrookeSimon CampbellRobert Colvin, Katie EcclesBeth HighstedMegan LouchAshley RumbleCallum SterlingAustin Wilks and Karl James Wilson.

Full of passion and romance, heart-pounding music and sensationally sexy dancing, the record-breaking show has been reconceived in an all new production created by an innovative new creative team; directed by Federico Bellone, choreographed by Gillian Bruce and with design re-imagined by top Italian set designer Roberto Comotti. The production premiered in Milan in July 2015, subsequently packing out the 15,000 seat Roman Arena in Verona, and then played a season in Rome.

Tour Dates for the UK production are as follows, Blackpool Opera House (11 – 30 August 2016), Orchard Theatre, Dartford (1 – 10 September), Grand Theatre, Swansea (12 – 17 September), Aylesbury Waterside (19 – 24 September), New Theatre, Wimbledon (26 September – 1 October), Palace Theatre, Manchester (10 – 15 October), Grand Opera House, York (17 – 22 October), Carlisle Sands Centre (24 – 29 October), Northampton Derngate (31 October – 5 November), Regent Theatre, Stoke (7 – 12 November), Kings Theatre, Southsea (14 – 19 November), Reading Hexagon (21 – 26 November), and Wolverhampton Grand Theatre (28 November – 3 December). Southend Cliffs Pavilion (10 – 21 January), Belgrade Theatre Coventry (30 January – 4 February), Dublin Bord Gais Theatre (6 – 11 February), Millennium Forum, Derry (13 – 18 February), Grand Opera House Belfast (20 – 25 February), INEC Killarney (27 February – 4 March), Ipswich Regent (20 – 25 March), Cardiff New Theatre (27 March-1 April), Wycombe Swan (3 – 8 April), Leicester De Montfort Hall (10 – 15 April), Hall for Cornwall Truro (17 – 22 April) [on sale soon], Milton Keynes Theatre (24 – 29 April), and Birmingham Alexandra (29 May – 3 June).

The new tour dates for 2017 are as follows: Churchill Bromley (6 – 11 March), Bradford Alhambra (1 – 6 May), Inverness Eden Court (8 – 13 May), Grimsby Auditorium (22 – 27 May), Sheffield Lyceum (5 – 10 June) [on sale soon], Edinburgh Playhouse (12 – 17 June), Glasgow Kings Theatre (19 – 24 June), Bristol Hippodrome (3 – 8 July), Grand Theatre Leeds (24 – 29 July) [on sale soon], and the Princess Theatre Torquay (31 July – 5 August).

 

National Youth Theatre present a season of new writing at the Finborough theatre

For the first time in its history, the National Youth Theatre (NYT) will present a season of new writing at London’s Finborough Theatre throughout August. The season is to include three world premiere productions: Olivier Award-nominated James Fritz will present The Fall, a new play looking at how young people come to terms with an ageing society, Olivier Award-winner Bola Agbaje’s Bitches will explore the joys and challenges of being young, female and black in her new play about vlogging and the first ever stage production of Mohsin Hamid’s Man Booker Shortlisted The Reluctant Fundamentalist will examine the ironies of prejudice and representation in a post 9/11 New York and PakistanThe programme of work is part of the NYT’s 60th anniversary celebrations this year and runs 9-27 August.

National Youth Theatre presents three new plays at the Finborough theatre

National Youth Theatre presents three new plays at the Finborough theatre. Click the image to book your tickets.

Written by James Fritz (Four Minutes Twelve Seconds, Ross & RachelThe Fall runs 9 – 13 August and will be directed by Matt Harrison (NYT REP Bryan Forbes Bursary Director 2014). The play will be a miniature epic spanning a lifetime, taking a candid look at young people’s relationship with the old and confronting the frightening prospect of ageing in a country undergoing a crisis of care.

From 16 – 20 August Bola Agbaje (Gone Too Far!) will give the world premiere of her witty and topical new play Bitches, following two young female vloggers talking racial political and popular culture in an unforgiving online world. In the year that Beyoncé broke the internet getting political and Azealia Banks was banned from Twitter amid accusations of homophobia and racism, Bitches is set to explore online trolling, cultural appropriation, the intersectionality between sexism and racism and the joys and challenges of being young, female and black. An energetic and human cliffhanger about young people, the production will be directed by NYT REP 2013 Assistant Director Valentina Ceschi.

The final production, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, will run between 23 – 27 August and will be the first ever stage production of Mohsin Hamid’s Man Booker Prize shortlisted novel and Hollywood blockbuster film. The production will look at the ironies of prejudice and representation in a post 9/11 New York and Pakistan following Pakistani native Changez’s disenchantment with the West and his journey back to Lahore. The production has been adapted for stage by Stephanie Street (Sisters) and will be directed by Prasanna Puwanarajah (Moth).

The NYT 60th anniversary programme will continue throughout the year. From September they will present a fourth West End REP season at the Ambassadors Theatre, giving two West End premieres including an adaptation Man Booker shortlisted novel Pigeon English by Stephen Kelmaninspired by the tragic killing of Damilola Taylor, looking at the harsh reality of adulthood in modern Britain and William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet in post war London with Teddy girls and Teddy boys running amok. The NYT have also announced plans for a one-off anniversary gala ‘Story of our Youth at 60’ in the West End’s Shaftesbury Theatre on 18 September 2016. The performance, which will celebrate 60 years of the NYT, will star over 80 members of the company alongside 40 renowned alumni. Other plans to mark the anniversary include two new commissions outside of theatre. Award-winning filmmaker Martin Stirling, known for his socially committed TV advertising such as Greenpeace’s LEGO: Everything is NOT Awesome, will create a filmed portrait of NYT which will be released later in the year. Alongside Stirling current NYT member and celebrated artist Conor Collins has been commissioned to create a series of portraits of NYT alumni. Collins exhibits primarily through social media and is renowned for his 2014 portrait of Tom Daley and 2016 portrait of Donald Trump, both of which were reprinted across the globe.

Founded in 1956 the NYT is the pioneering force for youth theatre around the world and is recognised as the leading provider of free alternatives to formal theatre training, with alumni including Dame Helen Mirren, Daniel Craig, Chiwetel Ejiofor CBE and Sir Daniel Day Lewis. Since being founded the world’s leading youth arts charity has nurtured the talent of over 100,000 young people.

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Belinda Wollaston talks about her role as Judy Garland in Through the Mill, what made her the woman she is today and more

Belinda Wollaston
Belinda Wollaston

Belinda Wollaston

10 years after working with Sondheim on Broadway, the musical theatre chanteuse is preparing to take on Judy Garland at Southwark Playhouse.  She considers the circumstances of her own death  – and wants  us to never stop trying to save the world.

Hello! You are an Australian Musical theatre actor. How do the UK and AUS Theatre scenes vary and which is the best? 

The best bit is that they both have an incredibly strong community, just as vibrant as one another. The scene is obviously much bigger in London, which creates more opportunities week to week than in Australia, but that doesn’t make it either one any better or worse, they’re just different.

In early 2006 you travelled to New York where you worked with some of the theatre world’s biggest names, including Stephen Sondheim. What does Stephen Sondheim smell like?

Rainbows!

What are you up to these days? 

I am currently rehearsing for Through the Mill, which is due to open at the Southwark Playhouse on the 8th of July. I will be playing Judy Garland during her Palace Years, from 1951-1952.

Belinda Wollaston as Judy Garland and Harry Anton as Sidney Luft

Belinda Wollaston as Judy Garland and Harry Anton as Sidney Luft in Through the Mill. Click the image to book your tickets now!

Do you think current musical theatre artists would benefit from a short spell in the marines? 

That’s an interesting question… A few years ago I was in South Korea doing Jekyl and Hyde, and I was told that a lot of the local performing artists have previous military experience. Needless to say, it was the slickest show I have ever worked on!

Do you ever consider the circumstances of your own death?

Sure, I think we all do from time to time. All I can hope is that when the time does come, I fall asleep after drinking a lot of expensive champagne, surrounded by my loved ones.

What’s the best song in MAMMA MIA

The Winner Takes It All for sure!

Which one event in your life made you the woman you are today?

It’s hard to pinpoint one event, but I certainly remember a time when I felt 100% certain that I wanted to go into musical theatre. I was 11 years old, living in a small town in rural Australia, when I went to see a performance of Les Mis. I sat in the second row and I remember never wanting to leave the theatre again; I was completely mesmerised.

Do you think actors should stop trying to save the world and get on with their jobs?

I don’t think anyone should ever stop trying to save the world.

Have you ever set fire to anything you shouldn’t have?

The only things I ever set fire to are the coals on my barbecue, or some candles for a bit of mood lighting.

Is there anything else we need to discuss?

Aside from your choice in questions? 😉 Only to ask when you are going to come and see Through the Mill??

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